In a recent op-ed piece in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., David Fenrick, a doctoral candidate and teacher at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Ky., reacted to a previous column regarding the movie Amazing Grace, released a few days ago. Here are some of his remarks, along with some responses from this writer.
Fenrick: First, Wilberforce waged a battle against the political, economic and religious abuses of the empire [British, early 1800s] of his day. Today, the United States is the empire: the most politically, economically and culturally powerful nation in the world and, some would argue, in human history.
“For a seminary professor to make a statement this dishonest is to brand him as either a prolific liar, profoundly mentally challenged, or simply to have pulled a ‘Rip Van Winkle’ for his entire life. This country, except for a handful of military bases on various islands mostly, has absolutely no land-grabs to show for its overwhelming victories in World Wars I and II or any other military actions such as Kuwait and Korea. It administers no colonies and its protectorates remain in their relationship of their own volition. It definitely is not an empire even remotely to be compared to those of England, France, Spain, Netherlands, etc., that held people captive in other centuries and right up to the end of World War II. There’s nothing wrong with being the best as long as in the process a nation is not among the worst ethically. Think Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China and Saudi Arabia, for instance.”
Fenrick: In this regard, Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandus K. Gandhi would certainly not stand with President Bush's call to "stay the course." They would be leading the people who oppose the abuse of power and the use of violent force for self-serving political and economic ends.
“This is unbelievably out of whack. Each one of the men mentioned eminently, tenaciously ‘stayed the course’ they set for themselves. Gandhi was even willing to starve himself for his cause. MLK probably gave his life. They were relentless in their demonstration of personal sacrifice in ‘leading the people who oppose the abuse of power and the use of violent force for self-serving political and economic ends.’ This is precisely what President Bush is doing as he understands the malevolence of Islamic fundamentalism and the intentions of its spiritual and governmental leaders to subdue all the peoples of the world. This country makes no claims to any Afghani or Iraqi real estate or other elements, such as oil, and is ready to get out of those hell-holes as soon as possible. Certainly, Bush has nothing to gain, but the people of the world who understand the Muslim aims – regardless of what they might say – appreciate the fact this nation is laying its blood and treasure on the line. Think Sudan/Somalia currently. To assume what Wilberforce, King and Gandhi might have done today, given circumstances entirely different from those that were connected with their causes, time, and place is arrogance multiplied exponentially. Each operated within his own country, and none of them faced an enemy driven by ‘spiritual’ nonsense drilled into their mostly uneducated heads by monsters who do have a lot to gain on the backs of others or through their blood. Blowing up women and children in the marketplace is something that only people incapable of parley/diplomacy do.”
Fenrick: Wilberforce, King and Gandhi proclaimed and practiced non-violent protest as a means to awaken oppressors to their injustices and to bring about social transformation. All three spoke against the use of military force to achieve political ends, no matter how righteous they seem.
“This is not an unexpected diatribe from the ‘halls of ivy’ or the ‘ivory towers’ that pass for institutions of higher learning in this country. What would Fenrick have done in 1941 – sit on a pillow by the dock at Pearl Harbor, a la Gandhi, while the bloody Japanese thugs blew the whole island away and then raped the U.S. just as they had already raped Korea, China, and Southeast Asia? Would Wilberforce have sent no boats to Dunkirk, favoring a parley with Hitler, while British soldiers were slaughtered by the thousands? Would King have gone to jail and meditated, rather than throwing Saddam out of Kuwait in 1991? Fenrick is a ‘better red than dead’ guy, so thank God this country is not led by folks like him. Fenrick obviously thinks his heroes had the answer to everything. They lived in another time and place, and he certainly has no clue about the here and now.”
Fenrick: Now, as in Wilberforce's day, the powerful men of the empire fight the voices of peace and justice and oppose those who boldly and bravely speak out against the brutal tyranny of economic and political abuse of power.
“The ‘brutal tyranny of economic and political abuse of power’ resides presently with the powerful men of empire connected to the nations absolutely enslaving and keeping ignorant their populaces in governments controlled by Islamic monsters and their civil-servant toadies. They do not fight for peace and justice, but for world domination at the behest of their ‘holy book,’ cobbled together by Mohammed, an ordinary cultist of the seventh century. This nation speaks out – walks the talk – against these blood-letters who brainwash innocent people into becoming homicide/suicide bombers, much as the hated Kamikaze pilots hoodwinked by the Japanese in World War II and killers of thousands of Americans simply fighting for freedom.”
Fenrick: And just as in Wilberforce's day, labels such as "unpatriotic" and "subversive" are attached to the courageous people who stand up to tyranny and injustice, and whose calls for justice offend the rich, comfortable and powerful who profit from the suffering of millions.
“Well…hardly. Those labels are attached to folks like Fenrick because they’re either too dumb or self-righteous or wimpish to face the world as it is, rather than as how they wish it to be. The profiteers from this country’s current actions are all of its people, who hopefully will again live in a modicum of peace when the Islamic threat is nullified and they don’t have to worry about a simple thing like getting on an airplane.”
Fenrick: Second, while Wilberforce, John Wesley and many other Christian reformers fought for God's justice and an end to the slave trade, their fight cannot be compared to the military conflict in the Middle East.
“Fenrick recognizes the 9/11 episode as some sort of ‘police problem,’ the attitude, essentially, of Bill Clinton, as the Muslims blew up Americans – even in embassies – here and there throughout the world, and even now blow up their own kind, such as women and children in the marketplace, to achieve their ends, fueled entirely by terrorism. Democracy may or may not work in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the benighted Middle East, but it won’t be for lack of this nation’s trying. In any case, the Ayatollahs and their ‘hit men’ will be kept from these shores. That’s what actually matters.”
Fenrick: Wilberforce, Wesley and King clearly understood the teachings of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who rejected the power of the sword, cautioned that "those who live by the sword will die by the sword" and told a representative of the empire of his day that "my kingdom is not of this world."
“Fenrick needs to re-read Luke 22:35,36, wherein Christ in the ‘Last Supper’ episode told the disciples in no uncertain terms to arm themselves (secure swords), even if they had to sell clothing in order to do so. He even emphasized the point by reminding them of the difference between this command and an earlier one, when he had sent them out on a mission without even an extra pair of shoes or any money. Those who live by the sword – the aggressors – WILL die by the sword, but those who protect themselves, as Jesus admonished his followers to do, will live for another day. Fenrick does not understand the difference between aggression (Muslims) and defense (Coalition forces). Fenrick apparently has no sense of either the scripture or history. This is a shame, especially on a campus, where he can influence often naïve young people.”
Fenrick: The "kingdom of the cross" and the "kingdom of the sword" are diametrically opposed to each other.
“There obviously is no such thing – at least in scripture – as the ‘kingdom of the cross.’ There were many kingdoms of the sword, and Jesus was enslaved in one such, a subject of the Romans. He had sense enough to realize that a hunger strike would not free him or his people from the Romans. For all of Gandhi’s actions, India did not become free of England until AFTER World War II, though the Brits gave India a Constitution in 1935. The American colonists, however, took a much more sanguinary approach to England in the 1700s, and one wonders if Fenrick disapproves of the way his freedom was won. Gandhi’s approach wouldn’t have been worth warm spit in the colonies in 1776, just as it would have been worth nothing in India in 1776.”
Fenrick: Respect and admiration for the United States have decreased into near extinction as we have sought over the last six years to impose the tyranny of our will on the people of the world.
“This statement borders on treason. This country acted in 2001 as the direct result of state-sponsored terrorism on American soil and began rooting it out in Afghanistan. This fight will continue for years and has nothing to do with ‘the tyranny of our will,’ whatever that is. There will be war in both Afghanistan and Iraq when the U.S. leaves, but at least Muslims will be fighting Muslims and not Americans, as was the case on 9/11 and in many other instances in especially the ’90s, when the Clinton administration was absolutely clueless and/or lacked the will to do anything. With regard to this nation’s will, Fenrick doesn’t understand that the U.S. could own vast portions of the world if it had the will to do so, most of it without even firing a shot. The U.S. could take over all the oil in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, for instance, if it wanted – without firing a shot, and no nation would rise up in opposition. This is not an aggressor nation, but God help us if leadership with Fenrick’s mentality should ever take office because it then would be defenseless. As for respect and admiration – who cares?”
Though hard to believe, Fenrick is only one of tens of thousands of academics who spout his drivel on a daily basis. He’s either another Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado nutcase afflicted with “cranial vacuum syndrome,” or just a hater of this country.
And so it goes.